Arts & Culture


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What’s Nu
Nu Haven Kapelye

Reckless DC Music, $14.99

This vibrant, community-based klezmer ensemble has been around for nearly two decades, performing at clubs, bar mitzvahs, Yale lunchtime concerts, and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas—to name a few. Its lively recording-studio debut, brimming with wild beats and happily honking horns, involves some three dozen participants, including the vocal duo “The Seltzer Sisters” and the cryptic jazz combo “Spies of the Balkans.” Like so many projects helmed by versatile bassist David Chevan, the music finds connections between this ever-adaptable, centuries-old folk music and modern jazz, big band, jam, and pop styles. The Yale members of Nu Haven Kapelye: Anna Reisman ’86, Ari Kagan ’16, Hedda Rubenstein ’77, Mandy Jackson ’07PhD.


The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency
Chris Whipple ’75
Crown, $28

The position isn’t mandated in the Constitution, and the chief of staff is neither elected nor confirmed. Yet the president’s “son of a bitch”—Nixon’s description when Haldeman held the post—can make or break a presidency. Veteran investigative reporter Whipple talked to all 17 living members of the brotherhood (so far, all chiefs have been male) and provides insight into how each one “translates the president’s agenda into reality . . . threading the needle where policy and politics converge.”


American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World
David Baron ’86
Liveright/W. W. Norton, $27.95

In the afternoon of July 29, 1879, the western United States experienced a rare astronomical event: a total solar eclipse. Longtime science writer Baron, himself a world-traveling umbraphile, presents a splendid account of that day and of the scientists—including Thomas Edison and Maria Mitchell, one of the first female astronomers—who documented the event. They showed the world, he writes, “how an unfledged young nation came to embrace something much larger than itself—the enduring human quest for knowledge and truth.”


The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us
Bruce Feiler ’87
Penguin Press, $28

The tale in Genesis seems, to many modern readers, both quaint and irrelevant: a guy, a girl, a snake, an apple? But Feiler, who has written several insightful books about the Bible, urges us to take the story very seriously. Adam and Eve, he explains, are “civilization’s first couple.” Three thousand years after Eden, their struggles still speak “in profound and unexpected ways to the deepest yearnings of human beings today”: our undying need for genuine connection.


Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism
Camille Paglia ’74PhD
Pantheon Books, $25

Since the publication of her best-selling academic art critique, Sexual Personae, in 1990, Paglia has been a persistent thorn in the sides of liberals and conservatives alike. These essays, culled from a quarter century of publications, cover topics as disparate as abortion, stiletto heels, date rape, football, Patti Smith, and Desperate Housewives. They offer readers a useful introduction to the controversial views of this equal-opportunity provocateuse, a self-proclaimed “libertarian feminist” who calls for “a wary alliance of strong women and strong men.”


Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War
Daniel Sharfstein ’00JD
W. W. Norton, $29.95

In the 1870s, Union general Oliver Otis Howard left his job as director of the Freedmen’s Bureau, a federal agency supporting and protecting millions of newly emancipated slaves, to rejoin the Army and head west to do the opposite: force Native Americans to give up their lands for a kind of servitude on reservations. Vanderbilt historian Sharfstein offers a gripping account of General Howard’s savage battles with Nez Perce chief Joseph and his followers—a brutal conflict and aftermath that continue to “embody some of the defining struggles of the American experience.”

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